I, Tonya (2017)
Director: Craig Gillespie
Cast: Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan, Allison Janney
Plot: Competitive ice skater Tonya Harding rises amongst the ranks at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, but her future in the activity is thrown into doubt when her ex-husband intervenes.
Genre: Biography / Comedy / Drama
Awards: Won 1 Oscar - Best Supporting Actress. Nom. for 2 Oscars - Best Leading Actress, Best Film Editing
Runtime: 120 mins
Rating: M18 (passed clean) for pervasive language, violence, and some sexual content/nudity
International Sales: Sierra/Affinity
Singapore Distributor: Shaw Organisation
IN RETROSPECT (Spoilers: NO)
“America. They want someone to love, they want someone to hate.”
Despite missing out on a Best Picture Oscar nomination, I, Tonya should be nearly a lock for the Best Supporting Actress category, with Allison Janney primed to win her first Academy Award for her role as Tonya Harding’s foul-mouthed, antagonistic mother.
Raised by such a spiteful mother, Tonya would become a battle-hardened, aggressively-competitive figure skater who represented America in numerous world championships and even the Olympics. She was also the first American woman to complete a ‘triple axel’ in competition, a feat that even the most gifted of skaters struggle to accomplish. America loved her… until America hated her for an infamous ‘incident’ that slighted her competitor, Nancy Kerrigan.
I, Tonya charts Tonya’s life story from success to disgrace, while at the same time sympathising with her. Some have criticised director Craig Gillespie’s treatment in which Tonya is seen as a victim of circumstance rather than an agent of malice. However, one must view the film with a pinch of salt, and as a disclaimer at the start of the movie would attest, I, Tonya may not be entirely true—or false.
Gillespie, who made films such as Lars and the Real Girl (2007) and The Finest Hours (2016), approaches this quasi-biopic through the use of enacted interviews and enactments of what presumably happened from the point-of-view of certain key characters, including a major role for Sebastian Stan (who’s better known as Bucky in the ‘Captain America’ movies) as Tonya’s ex-husband.
Edited in an energetic style that is reminiscent of a Scorsese film, I, Tonya however feels self-indulgent as if it is proud of its own tantalising material, like a model parading a set of flamboyant clothes. It is also overly reliant on breaking the fourth wall to get viewers to participate in the dizzying truth-lie conundrum, a gimmicky technique that gets tiresome after a while.
The glue that tries to hold everything together is Margot Robbie’s sensational performance in the titular role, surely her finest display to date, and one that could pave the way for her to become a serious actress. Apart from Robbie and Janney, special mention has to go to Paul Walter Hauser, who has a supporting role as Shawn, a bumbling fool of a fixer who thinks very highly of himself. He produces comedy gold without even trying.
Verdict: The film that finally convinces of Margot Robbie’s acting ability is an interesting if self-indulgent take on lies and truths about the sensational Tonya Harding incident.
The film that finally convinces of Margot Robbie’s acting ability is an interesting if self-indulgent take on lies and truths about the sensational Tonya Harding incident ~ 3.5★/B [ Dir. Craig Gillespie | 2017 | USA | Drama/Biography/Sport | 120 mins | M18 ] I, TONYA / © Sierra/Affinity #itonya #craiggillespie #margotrobbie #allisonjanney #sebastianstan #tonyaharding #drama #sport #biography #sensational #lies #truth #oscars2018 Preview courtesy of Shaw Organisation. Opens in Singapore 1 Feb. Full review to be out by 11 Feb.